Friday, August 28, 2015

Sometimes Good Things Fall Apart

As you may recall from I'm Officially Homeless, I had been waiting since October of last year to guide tours with Bicycle Adventures. My first two tours, which occurred in July, took me Bicycle Adventuring through Glacier, Banff, & Jasper National Parks.

Sadly, after leading my first two trips, I came to the conclusion that guiding for Bicycle Adventures was not a good fit for me. With all due respect to Bicycle Adventures and the guests on my trips, I'll simply say that the company had some business practices that I wasn't comfortable with. And so after returning from the trips to Glacier, Banff, & Jasper National Parks, I informed Bicycle Adventures that I would no longer guide for them.

As you can imagine, coming to this realization was quite a disappointment. After all, I had waited nine months to lead my first tours with Bicycle Adventures. Furthermore, I had made a handful of sacrifices during this time, keeping my calendar open so that I could lead as many trips as possible with Bicycle Adventures. The most notable of these sacrifices include:
  1. becoming homeless for the summer, as I couldn't commit to any housesits, and
  2. passing up on the opportunity to guide an 18-day trip down the Pacific Coast with Adventure Cycling.
This isn't the first time in my life when I invested a massive amount of time and energy into something I thought I really wanted, only to later learn that the something wasn't for me. I had a similar experience back in 2006, when I started a PhD program at the University of Washington.

In the nine months leading up to the PhD program, I poured myself into preparations and life adjustments. I studied for the GMAT, I wrote up essays and sent off applications, I quit my job, I sold my house, I packed up my things, and I moved halfway across the country to Seattle.

Alas, just a little while into the program, I realized that getting a PhD wasn't for me. I wasn't enjoying the classwork. I wasn't enjoying the lifestyle. And I wasn't enjoying the thought of having to devote an intense five years to the program. Furthermore, the snow-capped mountains and the sparkling waters of the Pacific Northwest were beckoning me. I realized that I didn't want to devote so much of my life to academics. And so it was that I withdrew from the PhD program.

My "failure" as a PhD student.
I am in the third row, three from the right.

Dropping out of the PhD program ended up being one of the best failures of my life. After all, had I not moved to Seattle for the doctorate program, I wouldn't have discovered the Pacific Northwest -- the place that feels like home to me. And without having lived in Seattle, I can't imagine that my life would have led me down the path of financial independence.

My experience with Bicycle Adventures is the same. Similarly, I invested a lot of myself in the venture. And, similarly, I'm confident that this is a "failure" that will lead to better places. Though time will reveal those "better places," for now, I know that passing up on guiding with Bicycle Adventures has freed my time and energy for other endeavors.

My "failure" as a guide for Bicycle Adventures.

Although my experience with Bicycle Adventures was dispiriting, I was fortunate to land on my feet. Housesitting opportunities quickly became available, and a staff position opened for an upcoming bike tour with Adventure Cycling. (As you may recall, I had an absolute blast Adventure Cycling Along the Columbia Gorge, and so I'm fortunate to be able to lead future trips with Adventure Cycling.)

I'm a huge fan of viewing life from a "deathbed perspective." When I'm on my deathbed, I want to be able to look back on my life and know that I explored all of my curiosities. Had I not entered the PhD program, I would have always wondered what it was like. Had I not guided for Bicycle Adventures, I would have always wondered what that was like as well. Now I know.

The truth is that we only know who we are by exploring our curiosities and trying on different versions of ourselves. Sometimes those different versions of ourselves look damn good on us. Other times, versions don't fit.

In the whole grand scheme of things, my experience with Bicycle Adventures was a failure. But that's okay. Failures often teach us the best lessons. And failures often position us in the best spots for moving forward.

As Marilyn Monroe once said, "Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together." I look forward to better things falling together.


  1. Well said lady. The one thing I have learned about you over the last year is: No matter what, you will always see the good, land on your feet, see the good, and have a plan. This may sound corny, but hun you are an inspiration, and I think of you often during times of Tony stress!

    WWSD What Would Sarah Do!

    I still think those that rode with ya were damn lucky!

    1. WWSD? Ha, you're funny! :)

      Thanks for your kind words, Tony. The ability to see the good in something, land on one's feet, and continue to plow forward is especially important when one takes risks. It's by taking risks, after all, and stepping outside of one's comfort box where the living really happens.

    2. Otherwise we get old, stodgy and boring which AINT us!

  2. As long as that new wheel you built doesn't fall apart, it all good :). Not sure if you have heard it, but there is a good Freakanomics podcast on the benefits of "failure" ..... You can't strike out if you don't swing, eh? Can't hit a home run either :)

    1. Ha! I sure as heck hope that the new wheel is a winner!

      Indeed, I have listened to that Freakonomics podcast. It's a good one. And you're absolutely right, no chances of home runs (or striking out) if you don't swing. :)


I would love to hear your comments on this post!